Sen. Tom Cotton: Whistleblower statutes were not designed to launch impeachment proceedings

Sen. Tom Cotton said on Friday that the federal whistleblower statutes are designed to protect government employees from retaliation at work, not launch impeachment proceedings against a president.

“Our whistleblower statutes are designed to protect government employees from retaliation at work for reporting misconduct in their agency or their department,” the Arkansas Republican told “Fox & Friends,” taking issue with Democrats keeping the whistleblower shielded from Republican questioning.

"They are not there to allow you to launch impeachment proceedings against the President of the United States while colluding with Democratic operatives in Congress and throughout the government."

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In a letter penned late Wednesday to ranking Intelligence Committee member Rep. Devin Nunes, R-Calif., committee Chairman Adam Schiff said that Republicans must justify the relevance of any witnesses they would want to call in public hearings as part of the probe.

The rules, adopted last week, give Republicans the ability to subpoena witnesses, with the concurrence of Democratic committee chairs. If the chair does not consent, the minority can appeal to the full committee.

Cotton said that Schiff, D-Calif., would not say that the whistleblower qualifies to be questioned by Republicans under his impeachment proceeding's rules.

The process still gives Democrats final say over witnesses, however, making it unlikely they can follow through on their plan to call Schiff to testify about his contact with the whistleblower.

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Cotton said that Schiff and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., are going the "extra mile" to protect former Vice President Joe Biden from questions about his family's business dealings in Ukraine.

"I can't imagine that she wants to see Joe Biden or Hunter Biden called to account for this obvious conflict of interest during the Obama era," Cotton said.

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“These questions basically say the Republicans can only have witnesses if they will play into his storyline. Nothing that would actually portray what truly happened. Certainly, nothing that would allow the calling of what may be the most important witnesses in this matter,” Cotton said.

Fox News’ Julia Musto contributed to this report.